How Do I Know if I’m Eating Enough During Pregnancy?
Learn the signs and symptoms your body will use to communicate to you that you might not be eating enough during pregnancy.
From the nausea of the first trimester to the random aversions and new nutrition guidelines, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to food and pregnancy. On top of all of this, you just found out you should be eating more as well. It’s completely understandable that you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed!
With that said, I want to put your mind at ease. Keep reading to find out how you can determine whether or not you’re eating enough during pregnancy.
Your Pregnancy is Just as Unique as You
First and foremost, I want to preface this by saying your health care team is your number one resource for all of your pregnancy needs. Each woman’s pregnancy is completely individual, therefore the nutrition implications, signs, and symptoms are individual as well.
Be sure to consult your doctor and registered dietitian before making any significant changes or adjustments to your diet. Additionally, be sure to notify them of any irregular signs or symptoms you may notice. The information presented below will reflect those for a complication-free singleton pregnancy.
How Much is Enough?
Before we discuss whether or not you’re eating enough during pregnancy, it’s important to define exactly what, “enough” is.
Surprisingly enough, the first trimester of pregnancy does not require any additional caloric intake. Therefore, stick to your usual intake unless you hear otherwise from your healthcare team! It’s the second and third trimesters where the increase in energy really starts to happen.
Generally speaking, an increase of about 340 calories per day during the second trimester and about 450 calories per day during the third trimester is recommended (2). Physical activity levels and personal needs must also be considered before making specific recommendations.
3 Signs That You May Not Be Eating Enough During Pregnancy
In order for your baby to thrive and grow throughout the course of your pregnancy, adequate intake as mentioned above is vital. Below are some of the common ways your body will communicate to you that you might not be eating enough.
Inadequate Weight Gain
Over the course of your pregnancy, your doctor will discuss the topic of weight gain with you. They’ll tell you that in order to have a healthy pregnancy, weight gain is to be expected.
In addition to the actual weight of the baby, this increase in weight comes from the following changes:
the mother’s placenta (essentially the “gatekeeper” between the mother and the baby all nutrients travel through this to the baby)
amniotic fluid (fluid surrounding the baby)
additional fat stores
increased blood volume
uterus and breast size all contribute to the total amount of weight gained during pregnancy (1).
With all of this in mind, it’s recommended that women gain approximately 25-35 pounds. Yet it’s important to note that your pre-pregnancy weight is the greatest indicator of how much weight gain is expected or recommended for you. You can check out the Mayo Clinic’s general guidelines for weight gain here.
So why am I telling you all of this? In order for the body to create these changes, gain an appropriate amount of weight, and make a happy home for the baby, an adequate amount of nutrients must be readily available via food.
If you find that you’re not gaining weight adequately, this may be a sign that you are not eating enough during pregnancy.
Dizziness or Slight Lethargy
Whether we’re pregnant or not, one of the most common causes of dizziness is low blood sugar. Low blood sugar occurs when there isn’t enough glucose, or sugar in the bloodstream in order to maintain balanced sugar levels. Balanced sugar levels are what provide us with consistent, sustained energy. So when these drop, we can feel a bit dizzy, lethargic, or weak.
In order to maintain balanced blood sugar levels, we need to consume enough food. As you’re adjusting to the new nutrient needs as a result of your pregnancy, if you feel a bit dizzy at times, this may be a sign that you’re not eating enough.
Another common sign that you may not be eating enough is that you’re always hungry. And when I say always, I mean always! After just finishing a meal or snack, randomly throughout the day, or even in the middle of the night.
Our hunger cues are the body’s way of communicating to us that we need more energy. When our energy needs shift as a result of pregnancy, our hunger cues shift with them. We feel hungrier more often and to a slightly larger degree.
It’s important to note here that cravings and hunger cues differ slightly. While we may crave the taste of something, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re physically hungry. So don’t worry yourself if you’re not hungry, but just experiencing some crazy cravings!
If you’re feeling excessive hunger daily, you may not be eating enough during pregnancy. Start to increase your portion sizes as well as the frequency of your meals until you start to feel satiated, satisfied, and full.
What to Do if you’re Not Eating Enough During Pregnancy
If you find yourself relating to one or more of these three signs, take some time to focus on your intake and increase your portion sizes in a way you feel comfortable with. Add an additional snack or two to your day or slightly increase your portion sizes a bit during your meals.
Additionally, always be sure to touch base with your healthcare team to keep them up to date. They’ll be able to give you recommendations that are specifically tailored to you and your needs.
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